, Volume 30, Issue 1-2, pp 3-25
Date: 07 Jan 2009

Proximate industrial activity and psychological distress

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Abstract

This paper examines the role that gender, occupational status, and family status play in moderating the effect of industrial activity on the psychological well-being of nearby residents. Using a unique spatial assessment of industrial activity and an environmental risk/social stressor framework in conjunction with individual-level data from the Detroit Area Study (DAS) and demographic data from the U.S. census, we find that residents of neighborhoods in close proximity to industrial activity report elevated levels of psychological distress compared to residents of neighborhoods removed from this type of activity. These influences are more pronounced among women but gender differences are also contingent upon occupational and family statuses. We show that specific combinations of work and family statuses make persons particularly vulnerable to the influence of this environmental stressor and women are two and a half times more likely than men to have these vulnerable statuses. This study makes an important contribution to the environmental health literature because it reminds researchers of the fundamental influence of social roles when examining the link between environmental risks and mental health.

A previous version of this article was presented at the 2005 meetings of the American Sociological Association in Philadelphia, PA. This article presents the perspectives of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the views of any organization.
Authors appear in alphabetical order reflecting equal contributions to the preparation of this manuscript.